Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Rob Parsons


It's high time for a medical marijuana card program in Colusa, says 
county officials.

The Board of Supervisors has established a committee to explore and 
eventually implement the pot card program for medicinal users.

The local committee includes Beth Robey, director of Health and Human 
Services; District Attorney John Poyner; and supervisors Mark 
Marshall and Gary Evans.

Passed in 1996, the Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 
215, allows doctors to recommend the use of marijuana for medical 
purposes. In 2003, California passed SB 420, which allows the 
Department of Health Services to create an ID card program.

According to the state Department of Public Health, 41 of 
California's 58 counties have implemented the program. In eight more 
counties, final approval is pending.

Colusa is among the remaining nine counties in which the program's 
status is "unknown," according to the state. The others are Sutter, 
Nevada, Mono, Mariposa, Madera, San Bernardino, Solano and San Diego.

Yuba County earlier this year approved a program to issue medical 
marijuana ID cards.

County Counsel Dan Montgomery previously told the board it was 
necessary for the board to approve the ID cards in order to comply 
with state law.

The ID cards are unavailable in Sutter County after the Board of 
Supervisors said the state should issue them, not the county.

The cards are intended to provide law enforcement with the means to 
identify legal medical users.

Statewide marijuana advocacy groups have been pushing the remaining 
counties to implement the law.

Colusa County is one of the last counties in the state to implement 
the program, in part because there has been no local demand for it, Robey said.

Officials admit there has been a sense of urgency to establish the 
program locally.

Poyner said the county's informal system has worked well enough 
without the establishment of a card program.

Colusa Sheriff Scott Marshall said medical marijuana laws are 
confusing and have created a new kind of criminal.

"There is a problem developing with criminals ripping off people with 
medical marijuana grows," Marshall said.

Marshall said the biggest misconception about the law is that 
marijuana is legal in certain cases.

"Marijuana is still illegal," Marshall said. "Prop. 215 cards just 
prevent prosecutors from prosecuting the crime."

Marshall said it is a poorly written law with too many loopholes that 
clash with federal anti-drug legislation.

Robey said the program could be a positive alternative for 
individuals with serious medical issues. She said she is curious to 
see what, if any, interest locals will have in the program.

"In my opinion, the lack of demand for it means our informal system 
is working," Robey said.

There is no timetable for implementation of the program, officials said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom